Not only did The Mechanic and I have no idea what to get our niece when she turned 9 a few weeks ago, her parents weren’t really sure either. “She’s changing all the time!” they told us, but did say that she had been madly biking around her neighborhood, started rock climbing at a nearby indoor climbing wall, reads obsessively, doesn’t like anything princess anymore but still likes her American Girl Doll, and that her favorite color is Real Tree Camo.

Hm.

I did hunt around for children’s camo bike accessories – I really want to encourage this in her. Ironically, we haven’t been able to interest her in biking for years. I didn’t find anything I loved, and time flew by, so then it was too late. We decided a Barnes & Noble gift card was a bit lame, so started with ordering a full-size Nalgene water bottle for her; her parents said she wanted one. Then, at 11pm, five busy nights before we were due to see her, I had a brainstorm – I would make her an American Girl Doll dress out of Real Tree camo! The Mechanic and I ran to JoAnn Fabrics the next night so I could buy the fabric, and I bought a doll dress pattern that ended up not working. Then I spent all my spare time trying to make up a doll dress pattern.

Teeny tiny pattern pieces!

Teeny tiny pattern pieces!

The McCalls pattern I had used to make a carrying bag for her doll earlier this year, McCalls 6854, also had some clothing pieces, so I used the top pattern, then just added a length for the skirt. Suffice it to say, my idea didn’t translate into reality as it seemed in my head that it would. My excuse is that I was trying to hurry and didn’t think things all the way through….

Using my Samantha doll as a model, I discovered that not only was the bodice too long, it didn’t seem to close properly in the back. So I took it apart and shortened the bodice significantly.

Doll Dress 8

I was very pleased with the centered design in the front, but had to cut out most of it to shorten it.

Doll Dress 1

The too-long bodice apparently was too snug over the doll’s hips and it didn’t close in the back. Even dolls have these problems!

Much better the second time around! I added rick rack on the hem, but opted against the tiny wooden buttons I thought might be cute down the front. Originally, I had stitched the Velcro on the facing so that the stitching wouldn’t show but it didn’t line up right, so as I was getting ready to wrap the dress on our way out the door to give it to her, I redid the Velcro. Not as pretty, but worked better.

The shortened bodice meant less tree branch, sadly

The shortened bodice meant less tree branch, sadly

Don't judge the insides too harshly - check out the fancy facing, though. I had to tack it down because it refused to cooperate

Don’t judge the insides too harshly – check out the fancy facing, though. I had to tack it down because it refused to cooperate

Velcro pulling in the back

Velcro pulling in the back

I love rick rack and think it works well here

I love rick rack and think it works well here

Although our niece carefully folded the dress up and put it away, the look on her face made me think she was really excited. Ever the polite child, she thanked us, but I don’t know what she really thought. I hope that one day I’ll happen to notice the doll wearing the dress – that will be the best thank you. And will indicate whether or not I should try sewing doll clothes again.

Although camo isn't Samantha's thing, the dress looks good on her!

Although camo isn’t Samantha’s thing, the dress looks good on her!

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